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Democracies are built — and thrive — based on civic participation. Increased participation in the electoral process strengthens our democracy and makes it more resilient. Automatic Voter Registration legislation could bring 700,000 eligible citizens into the electoral process. At a time when there are attempts across the country to gerrymander districts and suppress voting, Massachusetts can and should take the lead with 10 other states to ensure that its citizens are registered to vote.

Automatic Voting Registration is a common-sense reform in which state agencies such as the DMV would register applicants to vote unless they choose to opt out. This policy boosts registration rates, cleans up the rolls, and reduces the potential for voter fraud while lowering costs.

Ten states and the District of Columbia have already adopted automatic voter registration; including Oregon, California, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Georgia, West Virginia, Alaska, Colorado, Illinois and Vermont. Organizations that support this change to the Massachusetts voting system include Common Cause Massachusetts, MassVOTE, The Massachusetts Voter Table, Progressive Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice.

State Senator Eileen Donoghue is a co-sponsor of this bill but State Representative Sheila Harrington is not, not yet. It’s time to call them and ask them to encourage Speaker Deleo to move H.2091, “An Act automatically registering eligible voters and enhancing safeguards against fraud” out of committee and let it be voted on in the State House. Let’s make Massachusetts the 11th state to strengthen our democracy and adopt legislation that improves our voting process and encourages citizens to vote.

Deborah Santoro,Groton and Margaret Scarsdale, Pepperell

Co-chairs, Indivisible Nashoba

Our political system may need new democratic options

A married couple celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary could not believe that much time had passed. Amid all the congratulations and good wishes they were asked this simple question: If you could sum up in one word the success of such a long relationship what would that word be? They both responded, “compromise.”

Today in our political dialogue compromise is fast becoming a lost art. Now more than ever our elected officials should make every effort to find common ground on the important issues that face our nation.

Whether it is immigration, health care, race, economy, taxes or foreign policy, progress is made only when we pursue a course of negotiation rather than confrontation. Think how many times in our everyday experiences that we make compromises.

Sometimes we make them grudgingly but most of the time we make them. We make these compromises simply because we must because life cannot be put on pause like your remote control.

Sadly, the opposite is happening with our politicians. Both parties are completely engaged in discrediting each other.

Human progress is achieved largely through compromise in almost every endeavor. Yet today, more than ever, we need our politicians to come together and find common ground in issues for the benefit of the American people.

Those who represent us must chart a very careful course in the years ahead not only to safeguard our democracy but also enhance our image in the global arena.

Should either party continue to obstruct the other from focusing on the tasks that need to be resolved then Americans have two options: create a third party in an attempt to break this gridlock or amend our Constitution to end the two-party system and establish term limits.

The choice is ours.

Ray Balboni

Townsend

Utility expands on public forum with heat tips

I want to thank the nonprofit community for attending the recent heating forum sponsored by United Way of North Central Massachusetts and Unitil.

With winter approaching, I want to remind homeowners and renters that there are programs like Federal Fuel Assistance and the Good Neighbor Energy Fund that can help. Both programs provide financial assistance to pay heating costs for those who meet income eligibility guidelines.

As always, the best way to reduce your energy bill year round is to reduce your usage. A federal weatherization assistance program, which provides no-cost energy saving improvements, such as insulation and heating system repairs, is available to homeowners who meet income eligibility guidelines.

Unitil encourages everyone to inquire about these programs and if eligible, to apply as soon as possible.

To learn more about any of these programs, please visit unitil.com or contact your public utility company.

Sue Corson

Credit Supervisor

Unitil

What about Santa’s health needs?

I’m writing in response to the article in the Friday, December 1st issue concerning Olivia Twigg and her service dog’s visit to Santa at the Pheasant Lane Mall. I empathize with the family’s disappointment in their dog not being allowed to stay on the rug near Santa and Olivia for a photo, but I also empathize with the gentleman who was representing Santa that day. He has an allergy. He took a job that for the most part doesn’t require being in the vicinity of animals. Should he not have been hired for the job on the off chance a dog might have to be near enough to cause an allergic reaction? I’m guessing Santa would choose not to be allergic to dogs if he had a choice, but he doesn’t.

When animals sit or lie on a rug, they leave behind dander and dog hair that doesn’t go away when the dog does. Could the Twigg family have brought a blanket for the dog to sit on during the brief visit? Could they have called ahead to see what the circumstances and/or limitations were for a visit with Santa? A lot of children are afraid of dogs, even a service dog. The Pheasant Lane mall seems to be accommodating animals and children with disabilities by providing a pet day and a Caring Santa day, and while I know the pain of seeing your child disappointed is heartbreaking, did they consider that Santa would be dealing with his allergic reaction long after they were gone?

I would hope that raising a daughter with disabilities would give the family compassion toward another individual with a medical problem such as an allergy (look how many people have allergies to shellfish, peanuts, bees, etc, which can cause sever reactions). I’d like to see a follow up on this story… does Santa still have the job? I hope so… if not, would that be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act?

I think caring and understating have to go both ways, especially at this time of year. As adults we know that the Santa in the mall is a human being representing Santa and its possible he may have a health issue that while not dangerous to others could be uncomfortable and perhaps even dangerous for him. In most cases a person can walk away from an animal they are not comfortable with or allergic to, but Santa couldn’t.

LuAnn Smith

Townsend

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